Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Expectations Are A Funny Thing

Remember when O’s fans and baseball writers were projecting this season? The only rookies that were mentioned of coming up and having an impact this season were Matt Wieters and in some cases Chris Tillman (usually from the more less-educated writers). Well, we are a good portion through the season and all that can be said is that expectations are a very funny thing. The ones who most pundits least expected to make an impact (if they even knew their names) -- Brad Bergesen, Jason Berken, Nolan Reimold, David Hernandez – have made significant cases for being full-time players in the major leagues. Meanwhile, Matt Wieters seems to be feeling the effects of the immense pressure put on him (also known as being a human being) and is off to a struggling start to his career.

So what do we make of all this? I know the first question that all fans want answered is about Matt Wieters, and whether he will turn it around as we all are starting to sweat about his struggles. Honestly I think that fans need to be patient with Matt and understand just how he’s going about his plate appearances. It’s very clear that the hitting fundamentals are there; he seems to know the strike zone well and his swing is gorgeous. However, it is apparent that Matt is still thinking a lot while he’s up to bat, and that’s natural for a young player. He’s still getting used to the pitchers, and is obviously still trying to get his timing. When all is said and done he’ll be fine, just breathe and remember the prolonged struggles of Nick Markakis and Adam Jones when they first started with the O’s. They turned out just fine.

Of the successes, I have to say that some of it should not be as big of a surprise as it is to most. Particularly I’d like to bring up Brad Bergesen, who is currently the most effective starter on the Orioles roster. Bergesen spent all of last season outperforming the top pitching prospects in this organization, and showed that his stuff could play in the major leagues during Spring Training. The only question was whether or not that would hold up when the games counted, and after going through a rough patch, his string of brilliant outings has shown that it can. As I stated in last year’s Prospect Report, Bergesen’s mental makeup and pitch control suits him perfectly for the major leagues, and we’re now watching him do in the majors just what he did in the minors. Nolan Reimold has probably been the most unexpected success, not in that I didn’t think he was capable of popping some home runs, but the level of discipline and maturity he has shown at the plate and on the field has been so far and away better than I expected from watching him previous years. There’s a good chance Nolan Reimold and Brad Bergesen will not just be competing for the O’s Rookie of the Year, but the AL Rookie of the Year.

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